Cooking for parties, or even just larger groups of people, can present some unique challenges. In many cases, ingredients for recipes can just be multiplied depending on the number of people in attendance. Food safety is paramount, however, when cooking for parties, because it can be challenging to keep foods at the proper temperature when they are being transported, and then later when they are being served.
When cooking for parties and making larger batches of foods, be sure to consider the ingredients that are being doubled when modifying recipes. Not all ingredients may need to be doubled; for instance, the amount of oil used for sauteing something in a pan may not need to be increased, or only increased slightly. Be sure to consider cooking times when cooking for parties as well; larger batches of food may require slightly longer cooking times, but this is not necessarily always true.
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Keeping food safe to eat is an important consideration when cooking for parties. Ensure that large batches of food are cooked all the way through, and then plan in advance various ways to keep foods hot and cold. Keep hot foods, particularly those containing chicken, covered with tin foil; some people find that using a portable heat source such as a chafing dish can be very effective for keeping foods hot. Cold foods should be kept on trays of ice. On hot days, be sure to keep all foods out of the sun; foods containing eggs or mayonnaise as well may just need to be kept inside.
Another consideration when cooking for parties or large groups is the convenience factor of the types of foods that are made. Finger foods that can be easily picked up and eaten are often the best choices for parties; foods that are messy and require big plates, forks, and knives may be tasty but inconvenient, particularly if there aren't enough places for people to sit. In addition, it is important to make a variety of foods.
Some people prefer not to eat meat, so it is important to consider all food preferences when selecting foods for parties. In addition, if children are at the party, be sure to include some kid-friendly dishes as well. Most people find that when cooking for parties, the best way to serve the food is buffet style; this allows people to easily select the foods they want, and avoid the ones they do not.